The San Diego Crew Classic.
Anything with a name and location like that has to have a tradition. And, for Harvard, winning the Classic has become a bit of a tradition. in itself.
For the second straight year, and for the sixth time in the last 19 races, the men's heavies took home the Copley Cup, this time with a thrilling victory over Pennsylvania.
Harvard held out over the last 500 meters to triumph, 5:54.13 to 5:54.51.
"It was very, very close," Coach Harry Parker said. "I thought we responded very well."
Also competing on the waters of Mission Bay were the Radcliffe heavy weights, who finished third, behind Washington and Boston University, and the Harvard lightweights, who also finished third, behind Yale and Pennsylvania.
It's almost a shame the early-season meet wasn't more indicative of the season to come.
"Each race is important," Parker said, "but this one didn't tell us a lot except that we're going to be competitive."
This is welcome news for the heavies. Prior to this weekend's competition, Harvard was expected to place behind the Quakers.
As it was, the Crimson had to overcome a slow start to catch Penn at the 1000 meter mark, but built a three-seat lead over the next 500 meters. Penn picked up its stroke rate, but Harvard responded in kind and finished with the slimmest of victories.
"It was a tremendous finish," Parker said. "Our men were rowing 38 [strokes per minute] over the last 500 meters, and went up to 40 or 41 at the end."
The playing field has been leveled off. Penn has been exposed as vulnerable.
Radcliffe heavies Coach Liz O'Leary was equally thrilled, even though her crew finished in only third place.
"There was some great racing," O'Leary said. "It was pretty wild."
Despite a "blazing crosswind" which periodically disrupted the crews' momentum, the top five boats finished within five seconds of each other.